My five-year-old son announced we were not to come near the kitchen table while he worked on a project. His plan was to create the best Valentine the world had ever seen. Every time I came into the room, he would slide his arm over the picture to make sure the contents remained a surprise. My heart delighted in our sweet boy’s desire to demonstrate his love for others. A half hour later, with his hands behind his back and a giant smile on his face, he joyfully exclaimed that it was time for us to see our Valentine.
A Child’s View:
Pride quickly arose in our hearts. Jason was impressed by the accurate details of his arms (ha!) and the Bibles in our hands. My thoughts focused more of the positive example of marriage we are setting for our children. I recalled the time I tucked our oldest into bed, and she said her favorite part of the day was the love daddy and I had for each other. Seeing Jonah’s picture of the two of us holding hands seemed to be a similar conversation. I want our children to know that we love each other and are happy.
My pride melted away quickly, however, as Jonah delightfully pointed out how he drew our phones in each of our hands.
They weren’t Bibles… they were phones! I wanted to cry. He was so happy to highlight our phones; you could tell he thought it was important to us. I have written articles about choosing to be intentional with time limits for phone use, and have arrogantly presumed we were good about being unplugged. But a child’s depiction doesn’t lie. He sees us holding hands with one hand, and our phones with the other. That has not settled well with either one of us because it is our legacy that is at stake! We are passing down habits (good and bad) to our children, and I don’t want them to assume that a phone must always be in our hands.
His picture is hanging on our fridge, serving as a useful reminder of how the realities that exist within a child’s view. It has made me ponder what else my kids might draw. Some days they might sketch a mommy acting grumpy towards daddy or a bored expression on my face as we play My Little Ponies for the hundredth time. Sometimes I forget just how perceptive children are. I want to live life in such a way that if they drew a real life picture of what they saw, I would be happy with the final product. Because the truth is, for those of us with children, they do observe us every day.
We are setting the example of what a marriage looks like and what being a parent looks like, and I want to display a strong and healthy precedent. I see this played out in the seemingly minor day-to-day decisions: when my energy is lacking, and I rest on the couch, the children say they want a rest too. When I get the motivation to work out, my kids want to exercise too. If I sneak a cookie, they want a cookie, but if I snack on an apple, they want an apple. They want to do what I’m doing, and that applies to technology time and marital habits.
Beyond the scope of a child’s eyes, a hurting world is watching all of us. They need examples of cycle breakers, thriving marriages, and couples who put down their phones. I want to be part of a couple that displays God’s goodness, but desiring that isn’t enough. I must live it out daily… when no one is watching… that way I will be living it whenever people do look our way.
Above all else, though, God sees. He knows the number of minutes I waste on the phone each day. He sees opportunities missed to pour into my husband and children because of a preoccupation with Pinterest. John Piper once said, “One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.” Very true, and very convicting. I’m grateful for my child’s view of our marriage because it pointed out an area of weakness I might not otherwise have seen. Now I specifically know what to improve on this week and beyond. I hope God will continue to use my children (and others) to show me areas where I can be a stronger, more intentional wife and mother.
What would a child include if they were to draw a picture of your daily life?
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